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Colonial Christmas at Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site

Posted: December 5, 2013 5:22 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Some of the most cherished Christmas customs and symbols were introduced in Britain and America during the 19th century Victorian Era, particularly the 1840s.

In 1841, German Prince Albert gave his new bride, England’s Queen Victoria, a tabletop Christmas tree decorated with candles, exquisite hand-blown glass German ornaments and assorted sweetmeats. Two years later, Sir Henry Cole introduced the first commercial Christmas card -- 2,050 of them to be exact; also, Charles Dickens penned his acclaimed A Christmas Carol.

The next year, America’s Clement C. Moore publically acknowledged the writing of a poem for his family some 20 years earlier. It was called "A Visit from Saint Nicholas," more commonly know as "Twas the Night before Christmas," and would become the most published, read and collected book in Christmas literature, especially after New York political cartoonist Thomas Nast conceived an illustration in 1881 of what would become the classic image of Santa Claus.

Since there was no Christmas tree or Santa Claus in 18th century America, how did the country’s forefathers celebrate what was then known as the Yuletide Season?

A visit to the Kershaw-Cornwallis House at Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site on Dec. 14 from 2 to 5 p.m. will give residents and their families an opportunity to find out as they participate in the museum’s annual Colonial Christmas in Camden program. Event tickets will be sold at the gift shop and are $5 for adults and $3 for ages 6 to 12. Children five and under are free.

Guides in period finery will greet attendees as they enter the Colonial Georgian home, a reconstruction of the house built in 1777 by Camden’s founding father, Joseph Kershaw, and used as British headquarters during the Revoltuion’s Southern Campaign.

On hand will be "Mr. Kershaw" or David Reuwer of Camden, who will share the trials and tribulations he experienced as a staunch patriot. Business partner and long time friend, "Colonel John Chesnut" and wife "Mary" (Tray and Jane Dunaway) will remember settling in Camden and the indignities suffered during the war years.

Gaiety has returned to the house and Mr. and Mrs. Kershaw are preparing for a midnight ball. The dining room table is laden with delicious fare and interpreters will explain the food and table etiquette of the day.

Those interested in learning more about the life of a militiaman should talk to Ed Grossheim of Camden. Well versed on the topic, he is happy to show his equipment or fire his musket for interested attendees.

Kids will enjoy searching the grounds and buildings for the items listed on the Christmas Scavenger Hunt, which will be available at the gift shop. All will enjoy the special 10 percent discount on merchandise except consigned items.

All proceeds from Colonial Christmas in Camden 2013 will benefit Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site, whose mission is to discover, protect and interpret things pertaining to early Camden. Historic Camden is located at 222 Broad St., in Camden. For additional information, call 432-9841, email or visit


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